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Marks & Spencer's underlying profits up by 2.3%

Marks and Spencer has released its half-year results, revealing its underlying profit before tax has increased by 2.3% to £268 million .

Marks and Spencer has announced its half-year results. Credit: PA Wire

The company blamed a warm September for a 2.3% and 1.6% fall in general merchandise sales and clothing sales respectively.

M&S reported a 1.3% increase in womenswear sales in the first five months of the year, saying it had received "increasingly positive customer feedback".

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: "M&S delivered sales growth and increased profit in the first half despite a tough market, particularly in September.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made against our key priorities for the year: GM gross margin, improving Womenswear, driving Food growth and Cash generation.”

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M&S sales 'underwhelming' as fizz goes out of food

Marks & Spencer's fourth quarter results are "pretty underwhelming", according ITV News' Business Editor Joel Hills.

In full: Marks and Spencer fourth quarter results

Marks and Spencer's fourth quarter 2014 results in full:

  • Group sales: up 1.9%
  • UK: total sales up 1.5%, like-for-like down 0.2%
  • Food: total sales up 2.5%, like-for-like up 0.1%
  • GM: total sales up 0.2%, like-for-like down 0.6%
  • Clothing: total sales up 1.3%, like-for-like down 0.6%
  • M&S.com: up 12.5%
  • International sales: up 4.7%

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M&S boss 'encouraged' as clothing sales improve

Marc Bolland has been under pressure to turn around Marks' fortunes in general merchandising. Credit: Reuters

Following the publication of Marks and Spencer's quarterly results, CEO Marc Bolland said he was pleased to see a rise of 0.6% in like-for-like clothing sales.

“We delivered another quarter of improvement in General Merchandise. Clothing sales were up 1.3% in total, up 0.6% on a like-for-like basis. We are encouraged by Womenswear, which is showing clear signs of improvement and performed ahead of Clothing.

“Our Food business had another great quarter, especially considering the later timing of Easter. This marks our 18th consecutive quarter of growth. We continued to outperform the market with record sales around key events including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”

Marks & Spencer sees fall in like-for-like sales

Marks and Spencer has struggled to turn around the fortunes of its general merchandising division. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Marks & Spencer's total UK sales were down 0.2% on a like-for-like basis in the fourth quarter of 2014, the company has announced.

Group sales were up 1.9%, while like-for-like food sales were down 0.1% and like-for-like general merchandising sales were down 0.6%.

Next profits 'expected to overtake Marks & Spencer'

The retailer Next is expected overtake High Street staple Marks & Spencer when it publishes its annual profits later today.

Next's total sales between November 1 and Christmas Eve increased 11.9% last year. Credit: PA

Next, led by chief executive Lord Wolfson, increased its forecast for annual profits in January after enjoying a bumper Christmas.

Annual profits for Next were expected to range from £684m to £700m, according to Lord Wolfson, who made the prediction during the festive trading period.

M&S will release their fourth quarter figures in the first half of next month, and are forecast to make a pre-tax profit of £626m.

Former M&S boss to advise Government on NHS

The former boss of Marks & Spencer is to advise the Government on how to turn around failing hospitals, the Health Secretary has announced.

Sir Stuart Rose will work on attracting and retaining top leaders to help transform the culture in under-performing hospitals.

Sir Stuart Rose is to advise the Government on the NHS. Credit: Press Association

He will examine ways to recruit talent from inside and outside the NHS and make leaders more visible to patients and staff, Jeremy Hunt said.

Sir Stuart, who left M&S in 2010 and is chairman of Ocado, will particularly look at the problems facing the 14 NHS trusts currently in special measures. He will not be paid for the role.

Sir Stuart said: "Clearly the NHS is a very different institution from M&S, but leadership, motivating staff and creating a culture where people are empowered to do things differently are crucial to the success of any organisation, and I'm looking forward to helping in any way I can."

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